Of the Cadillac Escalade. I think the ‘Slade’s got a bad rap because, well, of rap, and other types of previous typical buyers and owners of the Caddy. I’m not saying they won’t be purchasing the new Lac, but it’s not all about gangstas and ghettos.
The new Escalade is a sheep -- a great big, effin’ powerful sheep -- in wolf’s clothing. This luxury SUV is comfortable, can be soft, is extremely quiet despite its stinking huge V8. It is the misunderstood badass truck because of its size. It’s like Rubeus Hagrid among muggles.
I fell for the Escalade not because of its massive road presence or enormous crest. No, I became smitten with the Escalade because of its colossal heart and the reassuring way it shuttles people and their gear about. The ‘Slade’s far from perfect, and I wouldn’t buy one because of what it now stands for but the big galoot’s alright with me.
The 2015 Cadillac Escalade is truly a refined vehicle. As I write these lines, Spotify is tuned on Miles Davis and the delightful So What is playing. The slow yet determined piano and base build-up at the very beginning is a sign that what is about to follow will be fabulous.
The initial impression when walking up to the Escalade is the exact opposite, but the end result is exemplary. The gargantuan front grille belies the SUV’s true nature, as do the 22” wheels. The truck looks powerful (which it is), but once past the initial impressions of wrongdoing and drive-by shootings, the Cadillac is welcoming and cosseting.
The cabin is aimed at pleasing the occupants, providing an uncanny amount of room for everything and everyone in your extended family.
The enormous front seats won’t hold you snuggly in place, they’ll simply make sure you’re good for the long haul. Same for the rear captain seats. The simple yet elegant dash layout is especially noteworthy thanks to its crafted cut and sewn interior. In the past, materials used were not always “genuine,” however, this time around all woods and leathers are real.
The best aspect of the Escalade’s acre of interior space is how calm and serene it always remains. With active noise cancellation, inlaid doors, acoustic laminated glass, and all kinds of insulation around the engine and floor tunnel, at cruising speed, I could practically hear my passenger breathing.
CUE the entertainment
Cadillac’s CUE system works well with or without gloves. The user experience is so far superior to Ford and Lincoln’s setups, but still not quite as intuitive or rapid as Chrysler’s.
The 16-speaker BOSE audio is incredibly well suited for a round of Freddie Freeloader. The surround stage technology makes you feel as though one were sitting in the middle of the band. It’s quite impressive.
V4 and V8
Also impressive is the 2015 Cadillac Escalade’s 420-horsepower 6.2L V8. With 460 available from 4,100 rpm, once the big guy gets going, he gets going. The 6-speed automatic (an 8-speed will be offered very shortly) helps the 2,649kg (5,840lb) truck reach 100 km/h in just over 6 seconds.
The initial break from inertia requires a heavy right foot, but when held the V8 roars confidently. This is perhaps not the best way to drive the ‘Slade as fuel consumption can (and will) rise to the 20L/100km mark with ease.
When not soliciting the V8’s full arsenal, four cylinders shut off and efficiency becomes the name of the game. I averaged 15L/100km over a 700km week.
The 2015 Caddy Escalade’s ride is unexpectedly good. I found the same thing to be true with the Tahoe I reviewed late last summer. The difference is that the Cadillac offers Magnetic Ride Control with a Sport setting that I used only once. Comfort or normal was more than suitable, regardless of the driving I was doing.
The electric power steering is geared towards relaxed cruising and as such, does not generate any weighted sporty feedback (none actually) when driving. Precision is good with decent on-centre feel.
The brakes, although tiny behind the very oversized 22” wheels, are up to the task.
The annoying side
The major fault with the Escalade (same for the Yukon and Tahoe) is the 3rd row arrangement. Although power-operated, this row sits atop the loading floor thus dramatically elevating loading height.
The other annoyance is with active safety systems, but not specifically with GM’s. The collision warning system was erratic and off all week with occasional warnings of imminent crashes while no one was ahead of me; an intelligent cruise control that would refuse to activate at all because of snow on the sensors; and the automatic front and rear braking turned out to be intrusive in tight manoeuvres or simply when parking, stopping me cold in my tracks with room to spare.
There are a limited number of options in this segment. The Lincoln Navigator is the closest in pedigree, but the Audi Q7 is a compelling option in part thanks to the available TDI engine. The Infiniti QX80 and Lexus LX also play the same game.
If the cover is important to you, few will beat the street cred afforded by the Caddy. Otherwise, the ‘Slade’s still a good choice.